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Happy Hour Replay: Richie Incognito on his unparalleled football life
The hell-raising NFL guard dishes on everything: the bullying scandal, the Bills days, his best war stories, Aaron Kromer, Mario Williams, Derek Carr and finding purpose in life today for 85 minutes.
We’ll never see another Richie Incognito again in the NFL.
After displaying his drink of choice for our latest Go Long Happy Hour on Zoom, a chuckling Incognito put it best himself.
“I hope not.”
What a wild ride it’s been these last two decades. With a couple of exiles along the way, Incognito spent four years with the St. Louis Rams, four with the Miami Dolphins, three with the Buffalo Bills and these last three injury-plagued years with the Las Vegas Raiders. He’s a four-time Pro Bowler who asserted himself as a team leader at various stops but, quite obviously, he also crossed many lines on the field and stirred up controversy off it.
Finally, he’s hanging ‘em up. This offseason, Incognito retired as a Raider.
The great thing? Incognito is an open book. On everything.
Over a sprawling 85-minute chat, he got into plenty with subscribers:
The good and the bad from his Buffalo days. Those two years with Rex Ryan were something else. Were teammates pissed at Mario Williams for checking out in 2015? And did defensive players have every right to be upset in this scheme? He explains. Also, Incognito’s own Bills career ended on bad terms. He looks back at it all.
Aaron Kromer. We all know about the beach chair incident. It was bad. But there’s a reason Kromer is always in high demand as an offensive line coach. After hearing Incognito break down his former position coach, expect big things out of the Bills’ offensive line in 2022. Incognito also gives everyone a look behind the scenes of what it was like when Kromer was suspended and the coach’s first week back. The Bills were playing against Jacksonville overseas and Kromer brought a Crowther sled machine from the states all the way to London for the week of practice. (“I remember our first practice back with Kromer full-time. We were like ‘F--k man. We’ve been on vacation.’”)
Why do offensive line coaches have a few screws loose? It’s a different breed. (“What you’re preaching to the guys is you have to be tough, you have to be physical, you have to be mentally tough, you have to be smart. And for an offensive line coach to be a great leader, you have to have all of those attributes. You can’t roll out some nerd in front of 15 to 20 alpha males, who all we do is think about beating people up. I played for some coaches who were afraid of their own shadow and the offensive line kind of took on that demeanor.”)
Derek Carr. In personality, it doesn’t seem like the two could be more different, but Incognito loves the Raiders quarterback and details what makes him special. Incognito thinks this Raiders team is ready to elevate, too. (“He is just a really, really, really good man.”) Icymi, here’s our story on Carr’s life turnaround from April.
Jon Gruden’s final days. What was it like in Vegas when those emails were leaked? And what does Incognito think about Gruden? He has an opinion on the matter. (“It was terrible. It was blowback from another investigation the league was conducting. They were protecting Daniel Snyder and then they selectively leaked Coach Gruden’s emails. It was a crazy unfair.”) Incognito has been in touch with Gruden, too, and thinks we’ll see him again.
The bullying controversy. Incognito relives it all. It’s been a while, but this was the undisputed No. 1 sports story in America for a stretch in 2013 (and led to a 144-page report from Ted Wells in February 2014). Incognito starts at the top. He describes Jonathan Martin as a friend he was trying to help. If someone today were to ask, he says he’d still call him a friend. Incognito took everyone through that surreal time in Miami. (“For his two years there, I was his only friend. I was the only guy he talked to. The organization would come to me and ask me how he’s doing. So when he left and it was a bullying deal, I was like ‘This couldn’t be farther from the truth. We all know the truth.’”)
Richie on the run. Believe it or not, I was sitting right by Incognito in Scottsdale, Ariz., in 2018, when Martin posted a picture on Instagram, with guns, insinuating that he was coming to kill him. The next 24-48 hours were crazier than anyone knew. Incognito supplies the full play by play. Part of him expected to see Martin enter the restaurant that night and — as it turns out — Martin was en route. Both the Bills and the FBI were involved. Incognito was told the next day to evacuate his house and drive far away. You’ll want to hear this full story.
Battles in the trenches. This is a career that spanned from 2006 to 2021, so Incognito has faced some of the best defensive tackles to ever play. As for specific plays? A few moments vs. Antonio Smith and Darnell Dockett come to mind. You may remember Smith ripping Incognito’s helmet off and flailing it at his head. (“Those are those battles where you go in on Wednesday, your first day of the week, and they have the depth chart and you go: ‘Oh yeah. F--k this guy. Oh yeah. Him, too. I’m sure they were doing the same for me.’”)
Politics in the NFL. Do teammates go at it in the locker room? Incognito relives one (fun) ongoing battle with a teammate in Buffalo.
What now? Incognito admittedly went through his own mental health crisis before signing with the Raiders. It was a dark, dark time. Life without football’s structure took a major toll but he says he now has a plan in place to transition away from the game. Incognito is going back to school, mentoring linemen and we’ll likely see him in the media soon. He also golfs and tries to convince us non-golfers why it’s worth wasting a full Saturday.
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I don’t think a Happy Hour has topped this one. Here is the full video and audio for our subscribers.
Note: Hang tight through some audio issues on Incognito’s end early on. Once he turned off his headset, it clears up just fine.
Here’s the video…
And the audio…